Updated: Dec 6, 2021
If you've never had surgery before, the pre-operation process can be confusing and slow, so here is a quick guide to help you navigate with a little less stress. For specific information always check your hospital or surgery center's website - they typically have a page dedicated to surgery instructions for their facility. We have information on what happens after you decide to have surgery, but before the date arrives in our Scheduling post.
Day Before Surgery
They day before surgery is busier than expected and it may be easier to start time off for work or other plans starting here. Typically there are 3 calls that are important to take. One from the scheduler, one from a nurse, and one from the hospital. You'll also be packing, working through logistics with your support system, and just dealing with the whirlwind of last minute tasks (and nerves!).
The rough timeline that the scheduler provided when you confirmed your hysterectomy date will now be set in stone. Make sure to keep the day free as sometimes earlier procedures get cancelled and you'll be able to arrive earlier. The nice thing about that is you don't have to be hungry as long! They will tell you arrival time and procedure estimate. They will also tell you what to wear (jewelry, contact lenses, etc. should be left at home), your eat or drink deadline, and details about going home or staying the night depending on how the surgery goes or the type of hysterectomy you have.
A nurse will call to go over health history and review some key details like:
Medications (the list of meds and dosages, but also what to take and what not to take pre-op)
When to stop eating and drinking (usually midnight but can vary)
Your transportation plan (and who will be with you pre/post op)
Whether you have an advanced directive
Allergies to foods, medications, etc.
A representative from the hospital will also call to get information needed to admit you. A lot of the information will be similar to what you shared with the nurse, but they also make sure you know where you need to go, where to park etc. Ask about the most up to date visitor guidelines and restrictions as well so that you can plan accordingly with your support person.
From here it's important to pack your bags according to how long you'll be staying. Even if you are going home the same day, you'll want comfortable clothes, something warm, some entertainment for the pre-op wait, and a few things just incase you need to stay the night.
Day of Surgery
When you arrive at the hospital you'll get checked in. Typically this is just last minute identify confirmation and insurance check. They will provide you with the identification bracelets that will get checked and confirmed about a thousand more times before you're in the OR.
Next you'll be in the surgery waiting room. Here a nurse may ask you to brush your teeth (helps to prevent infection prior to anesthesia), pee in a cup (last minute pregnancy test before sterilization) and you'll wait to get called back into pre-op where things seem to get really "real" for a lot of people.
It can feel a little chaotic at first with all the questions and new people. You'll change into a gown, cleanse your skin, put on the non-slip socks and confirm you understand the procedure you're having. They need to hear it from you to ensure they are operating with consent on the right patient. Different doctors and nurses will come in to get you ready for your hysterectomy. A nurse will start your IV and potentially administer some medicine to help you relax. You'll see your surgeon and their team as well as meet the anesthesiologist and answer more questions to help ensure they customize your meds for you. You'll also have sign paperwork to confirm that you understand you can't get pregnant after the surgery, as well as a few other forms.
Finally you'll be wheeled back to the OR and they will quickly put you under anesthesia. When you wake up you'll be in recovery and the long anticipated procedure will be over. The next few hours are meant to help you slowly wake up after surgery, make sure you can pee, and see if you can keep a little food down. Take your time and be glad you prepared because you'll definitely be groggy!